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Friday, March 23, 2012

From Bad to Worse, Way Worse

(Sorry, not the final post on the hot topic at hand)

I'm going to make a prediction that ideas have consequences. The day will come (i.e. watch your mailboxes) where someone opens a "long overdue" tzedakah to provide "free" plastic surgery to 24 + year old, perfectly healthy girls who haven't yet married. Throw money at it is always the name of the game. Of course, the defenders will defend the solution "if it just helps one single. . . . . . "

One surgeon alone, based on the recommendations of shadchanim who feel their clients aren't marketable, will not be able to provide enough pro-bono surgery to "plain" girls who are in need of surgery, and it is unlikely that others will step up to this (potentially career ending) plate. So, a tzedakah will be commissioned. Those who "can afford" will drain funds affording. Those who can't quite afford will borrow. And some hachnasat kallah fund will be opened up for the rest.

Rabbinic leaders: now is the time to open up a blog about culture, pen a letter, and do so q-u-i-c-k-l-y. This is a halachic issue (the doc claims he will only work with those who come with refernces from shadchanim and Rabbis). This is an issue of culture. This is the yellow brick road to accepting eugenics, etc and changing the nation of the klal forever.


On the subject of post-marriage (once the flowers have wilted and the enhancements have been eclipsed the effects of age and motherhood), check out this comment:

What about the ladies like myself who are having major marriage problems because of weight issues from having children. I had some c-sections and if I had a tummy tuck and lipo my husband might give me a chance. If only these guys would go into marriage loving their wives for who they are instead of their looks only and realize that things change, maybe I wouldn't be in this situation. I would take that surgery for free any day...

54 comments:

mom2five said...

Awesome!
The question I've been asking myself the last week has been, if I was in the market now reading this, and listening to "shadanim," why would I want to be ORTHODOX?

There are so many wonderful, ordinary men in the world that love, partner financially, and marry "natural" women, but clearly less and less of them are orthodox.

And ladies, after you are successfully starved, sliced, dyed, and painted, your prize is a guy who appreciates women, respects you as a person and a partner, supports you financially, (or at least 50%), and continues to love you when the polish wears off, right?

rosie said...

I hate to say it but the non-Orthodox have been fixing Jewish noses for decades. It was probably just a matter of time before someone would decide that rhinoplasty should go mainstream for Orthodox Jews. On the JP website was that tragic story of a Jewish teenager who died from a nose job. Of course there was a teenager (non-Jewish) who died during the removal of wisdom teeth and no surgery should be regarded as minor.
Apparently this doctor's colleagues are not thrilled with his offer to help singles.
I did read that rabbonim sometimes allow plastic surgery in cases where it might avoid a divorce but no one should undertake such surgery without discussing it with a rav. I would not go so far as to say that plastic surgery should never be done because there are people who are very self conscious about noses and other body features and rabbonim sometimes allow it for that reason. Again, each case must be presented to a rav.
It obviously doesn't put frum people in a very good light.

rosie said...

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/521460/jewish/Is-Cosmetic-Surgery-Permissible-According-to-Jewish-Law.htm

apparently some authorities permit cosmetic surgery when it alleviates severe psychological pain but each case should be asked of a rav individually. This doctor who is giving the free surgery to Orthodox Jews, states in his comments, that it will only be done after a rav is consulted.

ProfK said...

If money is going to be spent on medical treatment, I'd rather see it go to a Psychiatrist or Psychologist in treating the wholly unrealistic expectations and attitudes of many males in shidduchim, and for their mothers as well. Let's address the root problem and we won't be pushing girls under the surgeon's knife for no realistic reason other than "I have to appeal to what boys want now."

Noses are now the first thing that a boy notices when assessing how pretty a girl is?! Get real people. Sorry if I'm going to be a bit explicit, but males generally put busoms far ahead of noses when they are judging attractiveness. Is that, too, to be added to the "doctor will fix it" list? Dr. Frankenstein must be smiling in his grave.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of creating a firestorm, while I think its horrible to tell women that they should get a nose job so they can get married,I wonder how many people who are turning up their noses at the idea are women with a horrible nose or is married to a wman with a horrible nose. A decent nose is key to a decent looking face. There is no hiding it or avoiding it. After all, it is as plain as the nose on your face. $10,000 for a nose which you will wear every day, is a far better per diem investment than all the funds spent in the orthodox world on nice clothing, designer eyeglasses and shoes, manicures, etc.

I really don't think it is at all fair to disparage someone who gets a nose job. (And no, I don't have one and have no plans to get one or any other cosmetic surgery.)

We have to remember that given the separation of the genders, men and women don't generally have an opportunity to be attracted to a prospective spouse's personality, wit, or humor. We can't pretend that as human beings first impressions and looks often count in determining if you are attracted to someone.

Finally, lets not forget that we are brought up with stories about how beautiful Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Esther were. Would Esther have had an opportunity to save her people if she had a huge crooked nose with a wart at the end? Aren't we taught that men with certain blemishes or physical deformities were not eligible to serve as Kohanim?

looking said...

ProfK - I am not sure how old you are, but I am probably a lot younger than you. A huge nose will undoubtably cause more damage to a girl getting married than any other mis-shapen or too small body part. It is pretty much the first thing a guy sees when he meets his dare. Then he looks at the general apperance (weight) and much later the size of one particular body part.

Then again, maybe that is just me.

Fern Chasida said...

1. I hope that all these fine upstanding yeshiva bochors take time out from their learning to hit the gym a few times a week to develop their washboard abs so that the perfect women they want will be proud to be seen with them as well.
2. As someone who has been put under anesthesia many times for non elective reasons, I cannot believe anyone pushes this on others as an option. Even simple nose jobs have risks. If a woman decides to undergo cosmetic surgery for herself, that is one thing. But to encourage women (especially young women) to go under the knife just to get married is outrageous.
3. There are no guarantees in life. You can marry the most outwardly beautiful person in the world and then due to an accident or disease, find that your circumstances have totally changed. Is Prince Charming going to stick by his wife when God Forbid she loses her hair and gets bloated by steroids because of cancer?
4. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Obviously, we don't all have the same taste and find the same people attractive. Ordinary looking people are made beautiful by the love they feel for themselves and that their partner feels for them.

Dave said...

We have to remember that given the separation of the genders, men and women don't generally have an opportunity to be attracted to a prospective spouse's personality, wit, or humor.

So rather than fixing the root of the problem (above) the answer is to double down on shallow decisions and an exclusive focus on appearances?

Orthonomics said...

If a woman decides to undergo cosmetic surgery for herself, that is one thing. But to encourage women (especially young women) to go under the knife just to get married is outrageous.

BINGO. It is patently outrageous to suggest mass surgery as a solution to the self-perpetuated "shidduch crisis."

Orthonomics said...

ProfK-I'm with you. . . psychologists over cosmetic surgery if we need to "throw money at it."

who needs a nose job said...

I was once 'red' a girl and on the date found her highly unattractive. When I got home and said NO, my mother decided I was being too picky and she found an excuse to be somewhere that she knew the girl would be, so that she can see for herself whether I was in fact too picky. When she saw the girl she came back and told me that not only was I right about her appearance, but if she was me, she would never talk to that shadchan again. Haha. The bottom line is that girl got married before me because obviously 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder'. I, of course married the prettiest girl I ever met, and we've been happy together for 25 years. And as a PS, that 'shadchan' has been my night seder chavrusa for 20 years.

Avi Greengart said...

I don't think the issue is suggesting plastic surgery so your bashert will love you forever. I think the issue is suggesting plastic surgery so you'll be short-listed for a date with your bashert in the first place. That doesn't actually suggest that men are so shallow that they can't love someone who doesn't look like Barbie. It just means that when making a blind selection among candidates who are all the same on paper ("seminary graduate from a good family with wonderful middos") easily identifiable factors become magnified. In this system, pretty girls have better odds getting dates, so it hardly seems radical to suggest that plain girls take steps to appear pretty and level the playing field.

Now, if the suggestion that minor elective surgery is needed to game a flawed system is genuinely offensive, then perhaps we ought to fix the system instead? Just remember - don't try to fix it too much because we have twenty, maybe thirty years of tradition invested in it. Even if it might help people see beyond the superficial, we can't encourage young single people to get together and get to know each other outside a shidduch dating system, because that could lead to mixed dancing.

tesyaa said...

I agree that plenty of unattractive girls get married. I also think being attractive ups your chances (especially if you are not rich. Being rich makes up for pretty much anything, even being a baal tshuva or a baal tshuva's child).

We have to evaluate whether getting married should be an extremely important goal for any woman. I'd say whether or not it SHOULD be, it is. A commenter on another blog pointed out that marriage is not a halachic requirement for a woman, as it is for a man. My response is that I don't know any woman who would forgo marriage merely because the Torah doesn't require it. As long as women strongly desire marriage and children, it is not unreasonable to do reasonable things to increase the chances. What's reasonable varies from person to person, and for some people, cosmetic surgery is reasonable.

Already, young women in shidduchim spend thousands on tooth whitening and Japanese hair straightening (I know of this firsthand). While cosmetic surgery carries greater risks, the risks are not so great as to be rejected out of hand.

While I am not a person who would consider cosmetic surgery for myself, I know other reasonable, intelligent women who would and have.

Mr. Cohen said...

Permitting mixed seating at weddings would do more to help Jews get married than surgery, and would cost must less.

Charlie Hall said...

It is clear that the isolationist mentality of much of the Orthodox community, one in which young men are prohibited from any casual contact with young women, has produced a situation where we have accepted the worst of the values of the secular world. Is it any wonder why so many go OTD?

Anonymous said...

Re appearance: There is one type of appearance flaw that young people can fix and without expense or danger. And that is acne. As a teenager, if you have severe acne, it will leave lifelong scarring. Now dermatologists can inject the acne wih penicillin (if you are not allergic) and presto - it's gone! At least that's what I had done. This will help make a teenager (both boys and girls) feel much more attractive, and help them feel better when they come of shidduch age. Health insurance ccovers it. I am greatly in favor of proactive dermatology intervention to help acne, and I am not a dermatologist or related to one. Forget noses. Nose will marry nose.

efrex said...

Y'know what? I don't care.

The part of the Orthodox world that thinks this way simply has a set of priorities that don't match mine. Lo machshevotai machshevoteihem, v'lo darcheihem derachai. There's no way that the section of the Orthodox community that has these issues will listen to a "modern" type like myself, and I have enough self-respect to not care what they think about my priorities, which include reasonable chances for marriageable members of the opposite gender to meet, mingle, and work things out for themselves.

kol yisrael arevim zeh lazeh has a limit, and this is one. People who are foolish enough to rely solely on shadchanim who tell them that they're "too old" at 25 are not ready for married life. People who insist on a maximum dress size before considering a dating prospect are not ready for married life. People who feel it necessary to accomodate such people are not helping.

Anonymous said...

Why as a people have we stooped to such lows? Maybe we should require all potential spouses to wear masks at their first date and only after they are charmed by wit and personality can they take off the mask and see if they are horrified.
Why are we allowing mothers to decide what is pretty? Some guys out there would rather figure it out for themselves. I know a guy who's mother was screening all matches and she was doing it all wrong (for his desired life). She did what she wanted, how she wanted to introduce her new daughter in law, and not what would make her son happy.
You can't have everything- looks, brains, health, personality ect. Which would you give up on? I for one would rather give up on not having the prettiest girl/guy if they would have the health, brains, personality...

JS said...

efrex,

Couldn't agree more. I find this repulsive, sexist, backwards, and morally bankrupt. But, if these people want to be like this and behave in this manner, gey gezundter heyt.

When I see these things I feel like I'm reading a social anthropological study of a foreign culture and society - one that bears slight resemblances to my own, but has diverged many years ago and whose practices are strange and foreign to me.

My only concerns are not being associated with these crazies through the umbrella of "Orthodoxy" and not having my tzedaka monies somehow winding up helping them.

I wonder how many here are simply outraged or are actually affected by this nonsense because they live in these communities.

Miami Al said...

To bring this back to Orthonomics, let's walk back from the moral outrage and focus on the economics.

In an idealized free market, buyers and sellers have perfect information. In a real market, buyers and sellers have to act on the information that they have. One way that people handle this is through "signaling."

You can't actually evaluate your lawyer's legal work, and client references are hard to judge (nobody gives unhappy references), so prospects often look to superficial things like: office address, office setup (fancy vs, simple), the car they drive, etc., all things that indicate their level of success or lack there of.

The difference between a Toyota and a Lexus is relatively minor and superficial, for those of sufficient means, the luxury benefits may eclipse the cost, but for others, reaching to a Lexus communicates success. A realtor that needs to drive clients around needs an impeccable car, and the cost premium of leasing a nicer car may be made up for by extra business from signaling success.

In the Shidduch market, we have a few "imperfections."

First, the Principal-Ageny problem, and we have a few. Basically, whenever we use an agent to represent us, we gain the benefit of their expertise, at the cost that their interests may not perfectly align with our own. A young man looking for a wife may want a girl is is attracted to with shared values, but their are two agents in the mix, the mother and the shadchan. The Shadchan is interested in making a match, but the "best" match for them may not be the best for the gentleman.

All these schemes to float extra money their way tries to take advantage of the agency dilemma to do what ISN'T in the best interest of the bochur. If the bochur wants the youngest, thinest, richest girl (in that order), introducing him to older rich girls (via side payments) is taking advantage of agency to enrich the agent.

The mother no doubt wants "the best" for her son, but let's not pretend that she doesn't have her own interests. If her social circle judges "best" by thinness, then she has a bias towards thinner girls, even if they are less compatible with her son because "she's the best." She can easily think that she is doing her job, but her interests are NOT 100% aligned with her son's.

Miami Al said...

Back to signaling, fancy clothing and overdone make-up does signal something. It signals that the girl has the means to do so, either in time (30 minutes - an hour to do her make-up), or time and wealth (a professional make-up job). While the author masked it in verbiage about appropriateness for the event, she also was introducing a strong bias.

A middle-class girl might not have time to set aside an hour to get done up for this event, a wealthier girl would have. Historically, girth was seen as attractive, because it demonstrated wealth (food fit for a king). As the diseases of civilization ravage wealthy societies, thinness has become the goal, it indicates people that can eat healthier food (and therefore fewer calories in more expensive, but more nutritious foods), spend more time exercising (and often in expensive Yoga classes instead of cheaper activities like running, that would provide thinness but not the tone shape now defined as ideal)... For the show Mad Men, the produces made the actresses stop lifting weights, because while thinness was important for the show, it is a period piece, and the toned, muscular figure of today simply wasn't idealized in that time period.

A "goyishe nose" has always been prized in Jewish circles. The "Jewish nose" was not universally Jewish, it was common in the poorer, Slavic Jewish circles, less so in the wealthier, western Jewish areas. Plastic surgery let's one "change" their appearance somewhat, signaling a higher class "stock."

In a market like this, you end up in an "arms race," since the market is zero sum, it's not enough to be "pretty," one needs to be "prettier" than the other girls. So wealthy girls can get plastic surgery to be prettier, which moves them up. When you add tzedakah like this to "even the playing field," it's not even, you simply raise the stakes for the wealthy to signal their wealth.

It is impossible to remove these economic factors, but these "fixes" of "free plastic surgery," tzedakah funds to help lower-middle class have upper-middle class weddings, etc., you simply increase the arms race.

It's not enough to give your daughter a beautiful wedding, it needs to be a "nicer" wedding so that the community knows how rich you are and your other daughters get great husbands.

In the more egalitarian social dating world, there is some truth to beauty in the eye of the beholder. While pretty > not pretty, each guy is able to define pretty for himself where pretty is both what appeals to him AND what is available to him... few men would argue that a 5'10" model build isn't attractive, but men that are incapable of attracting such women will define their desires for that which they can obtain.

By defining "good" so narrowly, well liked bochur (since the scholarship isn't really evaluated, it's generally personality defining it) and "thinness, paleness, small nose" for women, you've warped the market further by creating an absolute scale for dating.

A secular female friend with a heavier build was frustrated by her dating life in high school and college. She knew that there were men that enjoyed larger women, but they weren't in high school/college, they were older. What hindsight let's one realize is not that these men magically started liking larger women in their 30s/40s, it was that as they remained single and refined their available pool, they focused on the best of what they could get, which was to focus on traits other than body build, which was maturation, but also acceptance of reality.

parenting is hard said...

JS
You hit on some really interesting points. How can we remain unaffected, and how can we make sure our money does not pay for it? By and large, the latter is easier to solve, I think. When a yeshiva calls and asks for money (and I am huge fan of supporting yeshivas) you can ask "Does your yeshiva allow boys to go to College?". As how to remain unaffected, this requires a constant search for "teaching opportunities" when you are with your kids. Whether it is making them answer the door for collectors - in the 5T this is a daily occurrence - having them open your mail to count the number of envelopes you receive weekly - about 20/30 this time of year - or just pointing things out to them whenever they come up. Every few months a collector comes to my shul and he is blind. He gives a sad speech how he used to make money but can't any more. If he would stop there I would be fine. But then he adds how he has children learning in Kollel that he needs to support and it kills me; and I will always turn to my son and ask him if he heard that, how wrong it is, etc.

conservative scifi said...

Miami Al,

Your analysis is mostly spot on, but on the silly and narrow issue of fuller figure vs thin figure for women, there are men interested in all types. Given the number of black hats, I'm statistically certain that there are some of those men whose tastes will run to fuller figured women, for a variety of reasons. If they are "redt" to thinner women, many of whom will fill out during preganancy and as life progresses, they may be satisfied, but perfect information would parse them out to the women to whom they would be most attracted, leaving the thinner women for others.

(Of course, statistically, some of these black hats will have no interest in women at all, per se, and should probably be left alone to follow their own path).

Miami Al said...

conservative scifi,

Absolutely. And this friend is VERY happily married with children with a warm and loving husband.

We were close friends as children, and this was something that really upset her in her teen years...

My point was, in high school, the same few girls were desired by most of the boys in school. Through college, graduate school, and later in life, you see that the absolutely fall over time.

The romantic view is that as people mature, they see more beauty in other areas, and evaluate people that they wouldn't have earlier. The cynical view is that the guy realizes he isn't getting a model, and re-orients himself to find things he likes.

The joke about "great personality" = fat is based on SOME grain of truth... I mean, it's not like heavier people are magically nicer, but if you are choosing who to romantically seek:

pretty + nice > pretty XOR nice > neither pretty not nice

And while there is a choice as to whether you are more interested in pretty but not nice, or nice but not pretty, few wouldn't first home for both. Some of the more variety of pursuit is maturation, and some of it is simply reality.

But, I don't think that the "mother of boys" are doing anything wrong, I think that they are doing the best they can for their children in a stupid system. I just think that the system is fundamentally broken, and these schemes to exploit make perfect sense, but are absolutely insane.

tesyaa said...

To someone who is a halachically observant Jew, Ms. Halberstam, while perhaps a bit vociferous, is not out of line. While wearing makeup during the week of shiva is forbidden, it is permitted for a woman who is "courting", presumably because she may lose her chance at marriage if she appears unattractive without it. I read this in Rabbi M. Lamm's book on death and mourning, and it is not clear whether it applies to a young lady in "shidduchim" or to a woman who has a steady boyfriend or fiancee. (The book was published in the 1960s, before "modern" - ahem - shidduch trends took hold). I'm sure someone with a knowledge of halachic sources could clarify.

Are commenters coming to contradict the shulchan aruch or mishneh brura because it goes against modern sensibilities? How heretical!

freakonomics fan said...

back to some economic thinking on this (and as freakonomics noted, economic is not only financial) - is the system fundamentally broken? I pulled out some older HS yearbooks from my daughters school; 6-10 years ago, and found that 75%-90% of the girls are married. While 10%-25% of 25-30 year olds being single may be too high, it is hard for me to say this is a 'funadmantally broken' system. Though I would probably feel differently if it was my daughter.

As far as the halacha of makeup and aveilus, see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh deah, siman 381 sif 6.

Anonymous said...

I think girls should be working at remunerative jobs in the community from the age of 14, as soon as they can put up their hair and look older. There are jobs in reception for doctors and dentists, you can make your own day camp for small children from the age of 13 (having "trained") working for someone else since 11, and saving every penny for your marriage. Skip Israeli sem for intown. It won't make a difference in the long run. Invest your savings in a reliable mutual fund, including stocks, so it will grow. In ten years of working, you will have enough money to make up for any physical imperfections, and you will start your marrige on a secure financial footing. Mothers in law may admire a young lady who has her feet on the ground. Save, save, and invest! Don't worry about your nose. Use some of the money to go to a dermatologist to get skin imperfections improved.

I'd also give this advice to young men. They should also be working and earning during their free time bein hazmanim in yeshiva. But they don't because they see no need. In years past, a teenage boy I know did the following during yeshiva: mowed lawns in summer, shoveled snow in winter, filled bags of groceries at the supermarket and carried them out for tips, and even had an ice cream truck, cruising the neighborhoods during summer. Every nickel counted. Why don't young teenage boys do this now? Why do they waste their free time? They can also save, save and invest. And in households where there is need, a young man can contribute to his mother's household money.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:14,
When do kids have a right to be kids? I understand teaching your children the wonderful skill of earning money and saving it. However, teaching your kids that they must work from the age of 11 is ridiculous!! (Besides for child labor laws and the fact that I would never trust my toddlers with a 13 year old...)
How will this solve the problem? This just adds to the "money=shidduchim" theory.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your point of view, Anon. 10:41. My mother at the age of 15 put up her hair and said she was 18, and got a job during the summer of WWII when jobs were going begging for lack of men. She was able to buy her own clothes and contribute money to her impoverished family. My friend spent his childhood (at 10-11 years old) Saturday nights putting the Sunday papers together at the corner drugstore. My sister spent her 11th grade year tutoring Hebrew to the daughter of a famous pianist and babysitting, and saved everything she made, and financed a trip to Israel that summer herself. The sense of personal accomplishment you get from earning your own money and paying for your own needs is an incomparable life lesson. Even now, I am proud that I work 3 jobs to support myself. That my evenings and weekends are spent on my additional jobs. I am proud to work, and the grandchildren in my family are proud to be young entrepreneurs running their own day camps for preschoolers, with their mother on the premises. When did it become shameful to earn money when you are ten years old? They aren't skipping school. They aren't missing out on baseball. A seven year old, a very responsible child, found a job pushing babies in the stroller up and down the sidewalk in her neighborhood for 25 cents an hour! I was very proud of her.

Anonymous said...

All the frum girls' school have "chessed" requirements, in which the girls are supposed to babysit and help out others for NO pay. (It wouldn't be chessed if they got paid). That's why 7 year olds don't work. (Not to mention that day camps need insurance.) And was it really OK for your mom to lie about her age? Is lying to get a job OK'd by the Torah?

Miami Al said...

This concept of a work-free "childhood" is an American post-WWII phenomenon. In the more agrarian past, children as young as 3 had chores related to family farms or gardens. In America, summer was cherished because while chores were longer (harvest time in the 18th/19th Century agrarian cycles), without school + long days, children had more free time to roam.

One of the key "virtues" attributed to Americans during the Revolutionary and Constitutional era was "industrious," that Americans were hard workers, colloquially called the Protestant Work Ethic, a combinations of America's distinction from the less industrious continental Europe as well as anti-Catholic bigotry.

Jewish immigrants to America in the 20th Century adopted to their new country and it's work hard culture quite well, and climbed the socioeconomic ladder faster than any other minority group. It's not uncommon to find an upper-middleclass Jew with a high earning AND high status profession whose parents were distinctly lower middle class and grandparents were immigrants, sometimes even with parents that were immigrants.

This is declining throughout all sectors of Jewish life, Asian Immigrants are replacing Jews as the "model minority."

What is startling is the low regard that work and productivity is held in Frum culture, and it does NOT bear well for the future.

The fact that we celebrate expenditures and not income is also not a recipe for long term financial success.

Orthonomics said...

My kids have a job: doing well in school. :)

parenting is hard said...

my kids have jobs too - sleep away cmp in the summer pays very nicely for girls 16-19 and boys 17-21. So does laining in a shul (boys only, sorry). But having them work for 25 cents an hour as little kids may come back to bite you. I can picture a kid asking "why did you make me slave away for $2 a day, when I now make that much in 5 or 10 minutes? what a waste of time that was." and I knwo it is all about building work ethic and the like, but there has got to be a line somewhere. As already mentioned, for 25 cents I would rather they do chesed - another "ethic" we need to build.

Anonymous said...

Parenting 12:47 - When my daughters were about 13-14, I advised them NOT to take camp jobs that worked out to $1 per hour. The jobs in question paid about $150 per month for 8 hour days. They realized they could earn more money taking private babysitting jobs at $4-$6 per hour and working just a few hours. I'm all for keeping kids busy, but teaching them not to be suckers is also part of parenting.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 11:50 - Thank you for pointing out that my mother lied to get her job. Her employer knew she was not 18. No way that he didn't know! But he needed someone to hand address thousands of envelopes to keep his business going, so he pretended to believe her. He colluded with her obvious fib to keep a Jewish business from languishing for lack of manpower and to feed his family and her family. But thank you for pointing out this important point about emet.

Re Comment 12:47 about the importance of chesed. I didn't mention in my post about the 7 year old making 25 cents an hour - her mother made her refuse the money and take care of strolling babies as a chesed. But she was offered 25 cents! Thank you for pointing out the importance of chesed.

My friend who put newspapers together Saturday nights was well served by his industry. Now that he is a successful executive, he often points to the early experience he had in working Saturday nights on newspapers. He tells me he still loves newspapers, and this was a chance to read them early, or at least the front pages. He is known for his work ethic, and his success in his career can be attributed to his parents' approval of his earning money at the age of 11. But thank you for pointing out that making a child work at 11 is abusive. Your point is consistent with today's hashkofos, especially among prosperous parents, and the not so prosperous.

Anon. 12:47 - thank you for your salient point about not making your children "slave away" for a pittance. Your point of view is very popular on this board, and I am sure among your peers. The teens in my family are fully insured, are supervised by their mom, and they do not work as employees in a day camp. They are independent entrepreneurs. The money they make over their teenage years pays for sem in Israel.

Miami Al, you are the only one with any sense. That's why you are successful. The rest of them are looking for reasons for their kids to play games on electronic devices and yap on cellphones. The children in my family excel both academically and at work. The young boy who folded newspapers ended up graduating magna cum laude from Cornell and attended Harvard Law School. Working is not inconsistent with academic excellence. But thank you Orthonomics Lady, for pointing out that your children need all their time to do their schoolwork. I am sure they do, as the 11 year old was intellectually gifted, and your children may not have his innate talents. That is not a criticism, someone has to be average!

Anonymous said...

So your mother and her employer colluded to circumvent child labor laws? But it was a Jewish business, so that was OK.

Yes, I'm familiar with the attitude that the law only applies to "yenem".

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:43 PM - For a higher purpose - to lift themselves up from poverty. There is no logical reason why a 15 year old can't work at a job during the summer. You are splitting legal hairs. You don't know what it was like living in a poor family in the early 1940's, nor do you know what it was like to run a business with no men available and women the only resource. They did what they had to, and if they broke the law, at least they didn't have to beggar themselves. They worked honestly. Your argument is weak and displays an unbecoming pettiness.

Anonymous said...

Also, I'll leave you with a Yiddish saying:

"De minimis non curat lex."

Mark said...

I worked regularly from age 14. In NY, something called "working papers" were required. Age 14-15 were limited to "safe" jobs, age 16-17 were only somewhat limited, age 18 and up didn't require working papers anymore.

Orthonomics said...

Orthonomics Lady, for pointing out that your children need all their time to do their schoolwork. I am sure they do, as the 11 year old was intellectually gifted, and your children may not have his innate talents. That is not a criticism, someone has to be average!

That is a bit rude!
I was an "intellectually gifted" kid and was far better served by pursuing extracurricular interests in my free time than I would have been by babysitting or working in an office (I did work for my family from a young age in the summers).

My interests provided me with a seder, motivation, friends and contacts, and a future side income stream.

I'm not against young people working and contributing to their families, but I don't think every 14 year old, or even most 14 year olds, should be looking for a " remunerative jobs in the community".

Dave said...

I'm not against young people working and contributing to their families, but I don't think every 14 year old, or even most 14 year olds, should be looking for a " remunerative jobs in the community".

I disagree. I think that as a general rule, every 14 year old should be working, for pay, with an employer who isn't a family member.

Not necessarily all year long, and not necessarily for many hours, but I think it is an important way to learn both how to behave in the workplace, and the value of a dollar.

Anonymous said...

Orthonomics Lady - I hope you appreciate my penchant for controversial posts! I am giving you your sideline income, by increasing views, posts, and your advertising $$$. Without me, your blog would not have the same punch.

I love the intellectual give and take, and I love the fact that I win more arguments than I lose. I don't mind enriching your blog - I'm giving you more page views than you'd otherwise have. I don't know you or your gifted children, chalk it up to the game! Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

As my brilliant friend told me when I was "hurt" by criticism on Amazon - if you put yourself out there, you have to expect you will sometimes attract criticism.

Anonymous said...

we already knew she (he? it?) was a troll

parenting is hard said...

So we have a debate whether 'all' or 'some' 14 years olds need to work...any way to put that questiom to the brilliant readers of Orthonomics? if not, put me in the NOT ALL camp.

Anonymous said...

Sephardi Lady - I will give you a free tip on winning a debate with me. I have posited that an 11 year old I know (as an adult) was not harmed by his part time job at 11 years old, that in fact, it gave him a sense of accomplishment, he loved reading the front pages before anyone else, and he went to a top college and law school.

How do you answer this impregnable argument? Here's how: You ask, Did your friend attend yeshiva day school with a double program? Did he study mishna and gemorah?

This key question would have weakened my argument somewhat, as my adult friend went to a public school, albeit in the era when the public school was entirely made up of Jews, many of whom were intellectually gifted. He also was in the school orchestra and studied two instruments. But he did not have to spend time on gemorah. He was elected President of the student council. (Now he is President of his shul.)

You can reduce your debate opponent's advantage by posing a key question. See? You've learned something from me!

I don't know what a troll is. I assume it's someone who is able to generate more page views than the average viewer, in which case I take it as a compliment. By the way, this is a hobby. I am a professional writer and have frequently appeared in the NY Times, Washington, Baltimore Sun, etc.

Mark said...

Anon - Orthonomics Lady - I hope you appreciate my penchant for controversial posts! I am giving you your sideline income, by increasing views, posts, and your advertising $$$. Without me, your blog would not have the same punch.

You're nuts. Do you see any advertising on this page?

And ask any small-time blogger that does have advertising if they are making any real money. You will see that they are not.

Anonymous said...

Mark - an excellent point, made with finesse and politesse, i.e., "you're nuts".

Anonymous said...

If the shoe fits - wear it!

Mark said...

Anon - an excellent point, made with finesse and politesse, i.e., "you're nuts".

I see you have no response to my main point.

Orthonomics said...

I don't think your comments are increasing my readership and my 2011 tax form shows $65 in income. This isn't a money maker. I make money in other areas. This is more of a hobby.

Anonymous said...

Mark - I did respond. I said you had made an excellent point, and the point I was referring to was that small time bloggers make very little money. My point about your refinement was a reference to your clever comment, "You're nuts". I was expressing my admiration for your ability to think up such an original turn of phrase! I did not intend to refute it. I couldn't possibly have your objectivity, you who know me so well. So no comment!

Sephardi Lady, without readers like me prolonging your posts and increasing the counter on the right, you might have made even less. You should be pleased to have a literate readership - readers like Mark!

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